ShakeDown: A Midsummer Night's Dream, King's Theatre, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
ShakeDown 2017
Pab Roberts (Adapter and Director) Heather McLusky (Lighting Designer) Gary Cameron (Sound Design and original composition) Jim Cursiter (Set Design)
Firrhill High School: Anisah Rasul, Bethany Anderson, Eve Buglass, Catherine Bruce, Ollie Martin, John McNair, Sam Moffat, Matthew Steel, Kathryn Leasle, Susanna Anderson

Tynecastle High School:
Beth McManus, Katie McKendrick, Leia Sherman, Mhairi Robertson, Molly Lloyd, Sarah Smart, Hannah Berry

Queensferry High School:
Maria Carter, Eren Kayahan, Daniel Craig, Bethany Ross, Anna Baillie, Harry Manson

The Royal High School:
David Smith, Jackson Ramsay, Zak McCullogh, Charis Stockton, Holly Millar, Kenna Calder, Mahathi Challagali, Rosie Wilkinson

Forrester High School:
Janie Thomson, Jake Rennie, Melanie Laing, Holly Falconer, Arron Illingworth
Running time

Five schools from across Edinburgh come together to produce a collaboration of youth theatre from the best material Britain has to offer; a shakeup of Shakespeare.

ShakeDown, a new project from performer, writer and director, Pab Roberts, is an exciting opportunity for local Edinburgh high schools to join together to form one abridged production of a Shakespeare play – this year A Midsummer Night’s Dream – to encourage collaborative working, appreciation for Shakespeare and the chance for young artists to find empowerment in performance.

Each school takes one of the five acts of the play, and one act runs seamlessly to the next with consistency in costume and design making the play a whole rather than five parts. This is done very well by the young artists and it is clear that the piece benefits from so many performers sharing the roles.

Firrhill, Forrester, Tynecastle, Queensferry and The Royal High were the schools that took part in this year’s ‘Pilot’ year production, putting forward a small group of students between 11 and 16 to perform. The initiative will continue in 2018 with Romeo and Juliet. (for details on how to register interest for your school, email

This project harks back somewhat to the original Shakespeare period with troupes of child actors such as the Children of the Queen’s Revels giving the King’s Men and the Lord Chamberlain’s Men a run for their money. The material is as much theirs as anyone else’s. The chance to perform on the King’s Stage, one of the most loved and traditional in Edinburgh, does not come around every day, and the excitement to be on a professional stage is clear in the hearts of those performing.

What is beautiful about this project is that it really has brought together a group of kids who may never have had the opportunity to work together, and has created a collaborative performance that lends each participant a ray of the spotlight. All the world’s a stage, and with any luck this will engage these young artists into finding a stage of their own; whether that be under the lights or at a drawing board or a lecturn, the arts are the key to freeing spirits and it is so important to free the spirits of the next generation.

The creative team behind it have done a good job to meld five schools into one production; a logistical feat that should be applauded, but it would have been nice (and possibly more fun) to see some more interesting staging than the black box. But the whole thing was truly as full of spirit as the month of May, and gorgeous as the sun in Midsummer.

Performances Wednesday 28th June 2.30pm and 7.30pm.